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"In an otherwise dismal year for the radio and music industries, hammered by an advertising downturn and digital piracy, respectively, Christian tunes are the surprising high note. The music, once thought to be too preachy and Southern rural to draw significant audiences, accounts today for some of the best growth numbers in radio and music. Christian and gospel album sales rose 13.5% in 2001, to nearly $50 million, vs. a 3% decline for all of music, according to sales-tracker SoundScan Inc.

"The genre has been steadily gaining popularity over the years, but spiritual questions stirred up by September 11 are drawing waves of curious new listeners, say executives. 'People are looking for a worship experience that they're not finding by singing hymns in church,' says Malcolm L. Mimms, president of Word Entertainment, a Christian label Warner Music Group bought earlier this year for $84 million. Also appealing, at least to younger fans, is that artists no longer fit the stereotype of, say, a hypnotically cheery Pat Boone. Today, Christian crossover acts, such as the dreadlocked and tattooed P.O.D. (Payable on Death), with its heavy rock and rap sound, are among the big sellers....

"Success is also a result of hipper marketing and more sophisticated music production.... 'For years, Christian music had a stigma and couldn't get out of the box' says Ryan Dadd, a consultant to Christian music labels. 'These bands today, who look a lot cooler, are saying it's okay to search for faith.' "

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Building a more SPIRITUAL civilization
July 15, 2002

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